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19 miners freed after 7 days trapped underground

/ Source: staff and news service reports

Nineteen coal miners were rescued Tuesday from their flooded pit in northeastern China after being trapped underground for a week.

State broadcaster CCTV showed the men being brought slowly to the surface. The first miner to be freed was reportedly met by cheers at the surface.

Hopes for the miners were revived Sunday after noises were detected through a 920-foot pipe that was drilled to allow fresh air into the illegal mine near the city of Qitaihe.

Twenty-six miners were trapped Aug. 23 when workers broke through into an adjacent flooded pit.

'We will never give up'
The official Xinhua News Agency said three miners were rescued Saturday and that one body has been recovered.

"Rescuers are still going all-out to search for the three remaining miners," Xu Guangguo, vice governor of Heilongjiang Province, told Xinhua. "We will never give up."

The men were being treated at a local hospital but were in stable condition, according to Xinhua.

Sun Yongkui, general manager of the Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Group Co., Ltd., told Xinhya that the men had spent 165 hours underground.

"They managed to keep their mining lamps on continuously," he added. "Water had been dripping from the rock ceiling above their heads, which also helped them to survive."

The mine had been ordered shut in 2007 but was reopened without permission on Aug. 16, Xinhua said, citing the provincial bureau of occupational safety.

China's mines are notoriously deadly, although safety improvements have cut annual fatalities by about one-third from a high of 6,995 in 2002. That improvement has come despite a tripling in the output of coal used to generate most of China's electrical power.

Technological advances, better training and the closing of the most dangerous, small-scale mining operations have upped the success rate of rescue operations, even after several days.

In April 2010, 115 miners were pulled from a flooded mine in the northern province of Shanxi after more than a week underground.